You can usually use a vehicle displaying non-UK number plates, and not have to tax or register it in the UK, if:
- you’re visiting the UK and don’t plan to live here
- you only use the vehicle up to 6 months in a 12-month period (1 single visit, or several shorter visits adding up to a 6-month period)
- the vehicle is registered and taxed in its home country
If you become a resident in the UK, you must tax and register your vehicle in the UK straight away.
Customs relief for non-EU vehicles
You may be able to claim relief from customs charges if your vehicle is registered outside the European Union (EU) and you’re bringing it to the UK temporarily.
You can do this by using form C110 - temporary admission.
You can find more information, and the conditions you need to meet, in ‘Temporary admission - temporarily importing non-EU means of transport’.
If you meet the conditions, you can take your vehicle through the ‘nothing to declare’ channel when you arrive in the UK.
If HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) tells you that your vehicle needs to be registered and taxed in the UK, you must fill in form C&E 388. You can get this from the National Import Relief Unit (NIRU).
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Students and workers
You may be able to use a vehicle with non-UK number plates for longer than a 6-month period, without taxing or registering it, if all the following apply:
- you’re a student or worker
- you normally live outside the UK
- you’re in the UK for a set study or work period
- the vehicle is registered in its home country
You must contact HMRC before or upon arrival in the UK to apply for customs relief.
If you meet the conditions above, HMRC will give you a customs relief form which you can present to the police if you’re stopped when driving your vehicle.
If your vehicle is eligible for customs relief and you stay in the UK after it expires (normally at the end of the study or work period), you must register and tax your vehicle in the UK.
When you need ‘Q’ number plates
You must get temporary ‘Q’ number plates if you visit the UK for up to 6 months and either of the following apply:
- your number plates display numbers and/or letters that aren’t identifiable in the UK (eg Arabic script)
- your vehicle isn’t registered in its home country
If you claim custom relief charges, you can get your form C110 - temporary admission stamped on arrival in the UK. If you fill the form in after you arrive in the UK, you must send it to NIRU to have it stamped.
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If you’re stopped by the police
If your car has non-UK number plates and you’re stopped by police, you must show you can use the vehicle in the UK without taxing and registering it here.
You may have to show proof of the length of time you’ve been in the UK (eg a ferry ticket) or evidence that you and the vehicle are eligible for customs relief.